Production workers at Toyota have a name for what’s happening to their jobs – job hardening. Its when you work long hours, at a fast pace and you hurt. Problem is, the hurt is not going away.

Just down Highway 401, at Cami, the Unfior autoworkers face the same pace, and have negotiated a solution.

“The line work is grueling, it’s the pace, you actually feel pain,” said one Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada worker.

Some issues are:

  • Workers have about 55 seconds at their station at the north plant, a little longer at other plants.
  • What is supposed to be job rotation every two hours gives way to favoritism by management.
  • Injuries are common, especially wrist and hand.
  • Nine hour shifts Monday to Thursday have gone to 10 hours at the Woodstock plant, will go to 10 in February at the north plant and rumour is the Lexus line will soon follow.
  • Saturday overtime shifts are becoming more common.

At Cami, Unifor has bargained more time off the job.

  • Close to 200 temporary part time workers are available to fill in when a Unifor worker wants a day off. They are mostly students and children of full time workers. Some earn up to $30,000 a year, helping families with the cost of school.
  • They only work when a Unifor member wants a day off, and cannot be scheduled.
  • A new time bank deal sees Saturday overtime shifts booked as 12 hours vacation, and when it hits 40 hours workers get a week’s paid vacation, and temporary workers take the shift.
  • That means workers get a week off a month, paid, if they choose.
  • Management has embraced both programs, as temporary workers are paid $20 an hour.

“It is a dead serious issue,” said Cami Unifor Local 88 chairperson Mike Van Boekel, on worker fatigue. “This gives workers a beak, its fantastic.”